Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Your Disability Free Life Expectancy

Retirement fund wiped out by the stock market crash? Thinking of working a little longer? How long will you be able to work? The answer depends on your disability free life expectancy. This is the number of additional years of life without a work limiting disability. Alicia H. Munnell, Mauricio Soto, and Alex Golub-Sass present updated calculations for trends in disability free life expectancy in a recent paper entitled, "ARE OLDER MEN HEALTHY ENOUGH TO WORK?" from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

This study reinforces previous research indicating that disability free life expectancy is strongly linked to the expected socioeconomic characteristics. The authors also point out, however, that disability free life expectancy has increased by much less than total life expectancy. The following table presents their calculations for 50 year old males. For this age group life expectancy increased by 4.2 years between 1970 and 2000, but disability free life expectancy only increased by 2.7 years. The surprising result is that once socioeconomic factors are held constant for most groups there has been little change in the disability free life expectancy. Their results indicate that, "with the exception of college-educated whites, disability-free life expectancy has remained virtually unchanged or worsened for each group."

Expectations at Age 50 of Years Spent in Various States of Health, 1970-2000

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